As I think about all of the exciting things coming up for the 2016-2017 school year, I try to develop some new projects and ideas that I can share with my students. It doesn't have to be a "new" product or technology necessarily, but something that will keep them "on their toes" to use the problem solving and super kid thinking skills!
We got out kits at the end of last school year, so I didn't get to use them with students yet, however, I have used them several times throughout the summer with adult learners. I have to say, I learn something new every time I do this activity! Having the opportunity to use with adults and brainstorm strategies for using this tool with students has been very valuable to me as a learner. The breakout that I have been using is a STEAM breakout where there are 5 boxes and each has a letter in it. This breakout is geared towards a larger group. Each clue that is to be solved has something to do with each of the letters. For example, there is a mental math activity, done on the iPad with the Number Pieces app that gives the answer to unlock a box.
I would like to use this activity as we introduce new things in the classroom and I think it would be an excellent tool that anyone can use to personalize a learning activity. My librarian and me are going to come together and create an activity that he can use to introduce and add excitement to some of his library concepts. As our teachers learn and utilize this tool, it will also be a resource available for students to use!
I love the wave of coding and computational thinking education going on right now! Our school has participated in the Hour of Code for the past four years and I feel that we are ready to dig into the next step. I offer a "coding club" for third and fourth graders on Fridays during their lunch hour, however, there isn't really time to dig into what it available. We have Sphero balls, Dash & Dot, and Lego Mindstorm kits availalble, however, Dash, Dot, and Lego Mindstorms don't get as much use as they take more time set up and understand. So, this year, I am going to offer an after school robotics club for students who are ready to taking coding to the next level. As we progress through the club, I would like to have students create goals for themselves, but also participate in different challenges I create. Learners having the time to develop their skills and learn new things will be a great opportunity for them and a wonderful adventure for me!
This will be our third year for coding club. I am going to be changing the name to something more fitting. It does not just focus on coding anymore, it includes maker activities, 3D printing, and many other activities that include a take apart cart and littleBits. The words wonder, explore, curious, and create come to mind, but I have not decided yet. What I have decided is that I am not going to start this club in September this year. Last year, I did it all year long and that was too much. It is so important for our kids to get outside and move. So, I will not start the club until November or December when the weather here in Wisconsin begins to cool off and we start having indoor recess due to inclement weather! We will have a certain day of the week when club will occur. It has always been on a Friday, but I am flexible. I think this plan will keep some regular students coming more often to really focus on what they are interested in.
What new projects/ideas are you planning for this new year?